KP Sharma Oli
Today, I am not here to talk about my own health, but to discuss the nation’s public health. The whole world is passing through a very complicated situation arisen due to the pandemic of coronavirus. Many countries of the world are badly affected by this pandemic. Fortunately, Nepal has not yet been affected directly by the pandemic. However, it does not mean that we are not vulnerable.
The health and security of Nepali citizens has always been my top priority. From the very beginning, I have given instruction for the formulation of a clear action plan and its implementation. Since the very beginning, the government has been making special preparations by adopting strategies, such as preventing the pandemic from entering Nepal, raising awareness among Nepalis, making arrangements for the surveillance, quarantine, and treatment of infected persons. In this context, five preparatory meetings were held under my leadership, and Nepali students were rescued from Wuhan in China, and arrangements were made for keeping them in quarantine.
Before I went to the hospital for my second kidney transplant, I formed a high-level committee under the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Ishwar Pokharel to take policy leadership in my absence to address the situation. Further, I had made arrangements to implement the decisions taken by the Action Committee that the Chief Secretary has led. The federal government has been carrying out its efforts through these mechanisms in coordination with the provincial government and local governments.
Need to change lifestyle
It is not an easy task to fight against a pandemic. It has become urgent for us to change our behaviour and adjust our lifestyle for some time. This might bring some uneasiness in our lives. It might be an inconvenience in our daily lives. But, we do not have any alternative; we must take steps to defeat the pandemic. Therefore, in my capacity as the prime minister trusted by you, I would urge you to:
• pay enough attention to hygiene; wash your hands frequently with soap and water and use sanitiser
• maintain social distance; avoid crowds
• stay inside your house as much as possible,
• do not stockpile essential goods
• do not get carried away or misled by rumours
• follow the advice of doctors, experts, and technicians
• exercise patience
• be alert but do not panic
All who have come from affected countries must stay in quarantine for at least 14 days in order to safeguard their own life and to prevent the transmission of the disease, to family and community. I am confident that all sisters and brothers will act responsibly at this hour of national challenge. The government will keep no stone unturned for the prevention, control, and treatment of this infection. For this, high priority has been given to provide services from all hospitals in the country, to make arrangements for adequate medicines and equipment as well as the required human resources.
Arrangements have been made to mobilise the most needed human resources including doctors, nurses, health workers, and security bodies with high motivation and encouragement. As much as possible, the private sector is encouraged to have its employees and service providers work from home electronically. However, all government employees and private sector employees providing essential services shall work regularly, as usual, from their offices. Arrangements have been made to operate vehicles including private vehicles required for providing public services as per the need.
In coordination with the private sector, arrangements have been made for regular supply of essential consumption goods including food. But, I want to make it clear that strong legal action will be taken against anyone who takes advantage of the difficult situation to engage in criminal activities such as adulteration, stockpiling, black-marketeering, and creating artificial scarcity. The finance ministry is monitoring closely the impacts of the global pandemic on Nepal’s overall economy. After analysing the possible and current impacts on the economy, the government will soon bring appropriate programmes to avoid shrinking of economy. The government is sensitive towards the possible adverse impacts of the pandemic on entrepreneurs and workers - the partners of the World of Work and will address it accordingly.
Bearing in mind our health and security, we are compelled to implement the following measures in some sectors.
• All international flights coming to Nepal have been suspended from March 22-31.
• Giving priority to the health security of the passengers at the border points, arrangements will be made for mandatory health check-up to protect from transmission of the coronavirus. For this, necessary coordination will be made with the neighbouring countries.
• Other than mentioned in the Nepal Gazette as essential services, all other services of public, community and private sectors at federal, provincial and local levels will be suspended from March 22- April 3.
• Long-distance public transportation will be suspended indefinitely from March 22 across Nepal.
• Places like movie theatres where crowds gather have been shut down for now.
• Education institutions, including schools and universities, have been closed and exams have been postponed for now.
• Additional steps will be taken with your cooperation as the need arises to address the pandemic.
The Government of Nepal is alert and sensitive towards inconvenience caused to Nepali sisters and brothers both inside and outside the country as well as other travellers. I would like to assure that the government will remain energetic to end this difficult situation at the earliest and to resume normal life. It is a matter of pride that the resolution motion presented at the parliament was passed unanimously and that the views expressed during the all party meeting have reflected that the whole nation is together in solving this problem. I humbly urge everyone involved in this campaign, including government bodies, civil society organisations, media, and others to show spirit of nationalism along with mutual cooperation.
A large number of Nepali sisters and brothers are residing outside Nepal. I am aware that you are having some difficulty in returning to Nepal due to the coronavirus pandemic. I urge you not to panic or to be worried at this hour and to contact the Nepal’s diplomatic mission in the country where you are residing when needed. I assure you that our missions will help as much as they can to solve your problem.
A little after I was discharged from the hospital, I had addressed the video conference of SAARC heads of state and governments initiated by Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi. I had expressed commitment that Nepal will also contribute to the joint fund against coronavirus pandemic as called upon by the Indian Prime Minister. I would like to announce that Nepal will contribute one million rupees to this fund. We are committed to joining hands with our neighbours, regional friends and international community to fight this pandemic. With your support, we will be able to protect our people from the global pandemic of coronavirus. I will like to express my gratitude to the private sector, different organisations, both neighbours, friendly countries, and the international community for all kinds of support received so far towards this goal. I am confident about the continued cooperation from neighbours and other friendly nations and well-wishers in the days ahead.
I have heard about the discussions you had on my willpower and high morale as the main factors for kidney transplant and speedy recovery thereafter. At this hour, the country demands our strong will power and high morale. I am confident that our will power, high morale and unity will play a decisive role in controlling the pandemic of coronavirus, defeat it and move forward. We strongly fought against the devastating earthquake of 2015 and the adversities arisen thereafter. I have not doubts that all sisters and brothers will stand together and provide full cooperation at this difficult hour.
(Unofficial translation of PM Oli’s address to nation on prevention and control of coronavirus on March 20, 2020)
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